Authors: Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski
Published: November 1, 2011
Hardcover: 288 pages
Source: personal copy
My Rating: 3.5 stars
Synopsis (from GoodReads):
When Laura Schroff first met Maurice on a New York City street corner, she had no idea that she was standing on the brink of an incredible and unlikely friendship that would inevitably change both their lives. As one lunch at McDonald's with Maurice turns into two, then into a weekly occurrence that is fast growing into an inexplicable connection, Laura learns heart-wrenching details about Maurice’s horrific childhood.
The boy is stuck in something like hell. He is six years old and covered in small red bites from chinches—bed bugs—and he is woefully skinny due to an unchecked case of ringworm. He is so hungry his stomach hurts, but then he is used to being hungry: when he was two years old the pangs got so bad he rooted through the trash and ate rat droppings. He had to have his stomach pumped. He is staying in his father’s cramped, filthy apartment, sleeping with stepbrothers who wet the bed, surviving in a place that smells like something died. He has not seen his mother in three months, and he doesn’t know why. His world is a world of drugs and violence and unrelenting chaos, and he has the wisdom to know, even at six, that if something does not change for him soon, he might not make it.
Sprinkled throughout the book is also Laura’s own story of her turbulent childhood. Every now and then, something about Maurice's struggles reminds her of her past, how her father’s alcohol-induced rages shaped the person she became and, in a way, led her to Maurice.
My Thoughts: I was lucky to find this book waiting for me under the tree this past Christmas. Now, I hadn't heard of the book before but after reading the synopsis on the book cover, I couldn't wait to dive in. I sometimes find it difficult to write reviews for memoirs, because it's hard to judge a story or person when that is their life story. I had that same issue while reading this book. Laura starts the book by telling the reader about her life and how she met Maurice. A few chapters later, she switches from talking about the present day to her childhood and growing up with an abusive father. The next chapter, she is back to talking about Maurice. I felt like this could have been handled differently, whether she told you about her background at the beginning of the book or just took the middle of the book to tell the reader all about her personal life, I just think that it could be handled a little more smoothly.
I enjoyed the book and finished it in about 2 days. It was easy to read and Schroff has a conversational style of writing. It felt like she was just sitting across from me, telling me about this 11 year old boy that she met years ago. I enjoyed reading about Schroff's experience with Maurice and would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for an inspirational book or a memoir (but be forewarned: you may cry while reading!)